One of the biggest challenges that many pet parents face is trying to keep their dog calm when people come to visit - something that even dishing out the best dog treats can fail to do. From excited lunging and jumping up to excessive barking and playful nipping, many of our pups display a range of behaviors that we'd prefer they refrained from when we have guests in our home.
But according to expert dog trainer Adam Spivey, we may be encouraging the very behaviors we don't want to see without even realizing it. In a video shared to Instagram which you can view below, Spivey reveals exactly what to do when you have visitors to help you dog stay calm - and while it goes against what we humans are wired to want to do, it really works.
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"When you go into someone's house who has a dog or someone comes into your house, make sure the rules are simple - ignore the dog until the dog is calm," Spivey advises.
We know how hard it is to do, but as Spivey explains, it's important for a reason. "If every time you go into a home or someone comes into your home and they fuss the dog straight away, they're putting their needs ahead of what's best for the dog.
A natural behavior and way of greeting for a dog is to use its nose. When you don’t allow this because you talk or touch the dog, often the behaviors they offer become less natural, and more unwanted behaviors occur such as jumping up."
Spivey says it's normal for dogs to be excited when people come into their home, but rewarding their excitement by fussing them will only serve to reinforce it and can lead to an escalation of unwanted behaviors, such as the dog starting to nip.
"We then want to scold the dog when it's the humans that set the dog up to fail because they couldn't take an extra few seconds for the dog to calm down."
According to Spivey, making it a universal rule that guests need to ignore your dog and let them come over and sniff them while they continue to ignore will lead to far fewer incidents while allowing the dog to do normal dog behavior (sniffing people to investigate them).
"If the dog walks away, it's not that into you, but if it sits there nicely and you've taken the time to let it do that natural dog behavior it can then sit down, and only then you can interact with that dog calmly," he says.
Remember, if you want your dog to behave well when you have visitors, make sure you let your guests know that your dog's needs come first and their needs come second.
For more great tips and tricks, check out our guide to how to deal with a badly behaved dog.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.